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Cautious corporations are applying the most restrictive local and national laws globally to ensure they obey compliance regulations. Michael Colao, director of information management at merchant bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, says this has little to do with bolstering information security and everything to do with ensuring there is no risk of senior managers going to jail.

Failure to apply with tighter compliance laws can result in criminal sanctions. Breaches to Italy's rigorous data security and privacy laws, for example, are punishable by up to three years imprisonment regardless of whether an information security breach has taken place. So far, Italian authorities have not served any notable enforcement action against data slackers. But some multinationals are taking no chances: Microsoft, for example has revised its global policy to apply with Italian regulations, according to Colao, speaking yesterday at the Computer and Internet Crime Conference in London. This has happened despite a lack thus far

California's security breach disclosure law obliges companies to notify their customers of security breaches exposing personal information, such as social security numbers, applies only to the state. But US banks are beginning to use it as a model for their national policy.

Although the most security conscious organisations are applying the most restrictive policies nationally or internationally other firms remains apathetic about establishing a security policy of any description. According to Calao, tighter rules could could perversely create a wider gap between the security-conscious and the apathetic, with some IT directors simply burying their heads in the sand. ®

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